October 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Last Month Brought More Treats Than Tricks for Most Automakers

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

More mainstream brands saw year-over-year rises in sales volume last month than those who endured a sojourn into the red. It will surprise exactly no one to learn those who did earn sales growth largely did so on the backs of trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.

Nowhere was this more apparent than at Genesis, a brand peddling some excellent cars but – for the moment – completely bereft of an offering in America’s hottest segment. Fiat Chrysler, on the other hand, had a particularly strong October thanks to its top-heaviness in each of those markets.

[Edit: updated to include Audi & BMW numbers]

In terms of straight percentages, every brand (save one) that gained volume at FCA did so at a double-digit rate. The only reason Jeep did not is because its volume has grown to a disproportionate size compared to the rest of the company. FCA’s eggs are being increasingly piled into a single, Jeep-shaped basket.

Plenty of digital ink has been spilled about Ford recently, from coverage about a potential tie-up with VW to their incomprehensible decision to deprive Americans of the Ranger Raptor, so let’s spill some more. You’re all more than capable of reading the numbers below, but what they don’t reveal are nuggets gleaned from sidebars on the company’s sales report.

Year-to-date, 30.2 percent of all volume at Ford Motor Company is comprised of fleet sales, up 0.7 percent from 2017. Breaking that down even further, 11.1 percent are rentals, 13 percent are commercial units, and the gubmint picks up the remaining 6.1 percent of volume. Having said all that, the Blue Oval’s average transaction price reached record levels of $36,800 in October, up $1,400 from last year. Thanks, trucks.

Stating the obvious, most customers have shifted their tastes – perhaps permanently – to crossovers and SUVs. Not shown above but broken out in Toyota’s report is that while its business as a whole was up, its car biz is off 11.1 percent, year-to-date. That still represents a volume of roughly 680,000 units. Ford’s car arm moved about 414,000 machines, off 17.4 percent. Draw your own conclusions from those numbers, readers.

Fun fact for fans of weird stats: Nissan sold exactly the same number of Titans this October as last October. Those 4,114 pickups helped the brand to a total of 41,953 Nissan half-tons finding new homes so far this year, a 5.8 percent increase. By the way, the older-than-Methuselah midsize Frontier is up 7.2 percent in 2018, scuppering any chance Nissan will plow big development bucks into an upgraded unit. With the old one selling well, why would they?

Since its introduction, some have wondered whether the Subaru Ascent is cannibalizing sales from its mates in the showroom. It’s too soon to tell for certain, as initial takers might be existing Subaru owners trading in early. The new three-row crossover has sold 22,588 cars so far this year at a company that’s up a total of 25,919 units. That looks good right up until the point one realizes the Crosstrek is up almost 35,000 machines. All other models are down. Hmm.

We’ll have more sales analysis tomorrow and in the days ahead.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • I'm thinking there's at least a 40 percent chance the local Genesis dealer would flat-out give me the '18 G80 that I've had my eye on, just if I asked nicely...

    • See 4 previous
    • Nitramaj Nitramaj on Nov 02, 2018

      @PrincipalDan Farmington already has an Automax. Maybe too much competition?

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Nov 02, 2018

    Lincoln down 15%. What a joke.

    • See 1 previous
    • Thelaine Thelaine on Nov 03, 2018

      @Matt51 I cannot imagine how much money Ford has wasted on unprofitable Lincoln products. Cadillac can only be worse.

  • 28-Cars-Later Ronin.
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